Preparing to Buy a Home

Real Estate Agent
Are you preparing to buy a home for the first time? Or have you closed on a number of homes in the past and are preparing to buy your next home? Regardless, you'll want to keep in mind the steps necessary to successfully navigate the preparations for buying that next home.

Initially, you'll want to determine your income, debts and savings and decide what you can afford. Instead of doing all the calculations and attempting to make the determinations yourself, you may want to decide on a reputable lender and have them do it for you through a prequalification. If you know that you will not be accumulating any further debt, the prequalification will tell you how much you will be able to loan for your next home.

A word to the wise, however, is that you may want to consider buying a home that is 10 percent less than what you are prequalified for. It will give you more wiggle room for future unforeseen purchases.

Finding a lender is easy. They can be located throughout the Internet, in the Yellow Pages, at mortgage brokerages and in banking and financial institutions. Finding a good lender, though, may not be as easy.

You'll want to find a reputable lender who can give you the best deal and you'll want to find a loan that meets your needs, preferably one that has a low interest rate and relatively low monthly payments.

If you've used a lender to buy a home in the past that you trust, you may want to start there. For a broader selection of lenders, however, comb through the Internet for sites that display the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other accreditations. Also, talk to friends and family about lenders they have successfully used in the past. You might want to consider a mortgage broker over a banking institution. They have a access to a variety of lenders who offer a variety of options.

Pick ten lenders total to inquire about a home loan. Ask about different loans available and which ones might work best for you. Depending on your buying situation and the number of years you intend on owning the home, you may want to consider an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) or balloon loan with a refinancing option as opposed to a traditional fixed-rate mortgage.

When you decide on the loan type, get a quote for interest rates, APRs and all fees associated with the loan from each lender, and request that they send the quotes to you in writing. Make sure when you request the interest rate that you ask how long the rate is good for (through what date).

Try to obtain all this information within a week's time, so that interest rates don't fluctuate too much. They actually can from day-to-day, depending on trading market activity.

Once you find a lender and know how much you will be able to loan, you'll need to find a home to buy. You probably already have in mind what you want in your next home. A licensed realtor, however, has access to a variety of resources to enable you to most successfully find your next dream home.

Inquire of friends and family in order to find a reputable realtor. If no one knows of one, look in the local phone book and pick out three different realty companies to contact. You'll want to either ask for the realtor with the most closings or for the realtor who has just been licensed.

Many people suggest that you use the realtor with the most closings, because they experience the highest rate of success in sales. New agents, however, can be just as valuable, since they are hungry for a sale and will often go beyond the call of duty, even beyond that of those who are very experienced, in order to sell your home.

Use your intuition in deciding on realtors to interview in person. Put together a short questionnaire that you ask of each when you initially speak to them over the phone. You'll want to ask each of them for two references of people who have used them in the past.

Some questions you might want to ask of experienced realtors in your phone interview are:

* How many homes have you listed versus how many you have sold in my subdivision, neighborhood or city (whichever are applicable) in the last year, or the past (whichever is most relevant)?
* What types of advertising do you use to promote the sale of homes you list - multiple listing service (MLS), flyers in tubes at the curb of the home, newspaper advertising or other media outlets, agent open houses, public open house, etc.?
* How many homes do you have listed currently on the market in my subdivision, neighborhood or city?
* Do you have any marketing materials?
* Do you have any additional accreditations? If so, which ones?
* Will you be my only point of contact or do you have others who would be assisting me through the process?
* What commission do you charge? Some can vary as much as 2 percent.

Questions for new realtors may be as follows:

* What did you do as a profession before you became a licensed realtor?
* How did you approach your previous profession in order to be a success?
* What will your plan be to sell my home?
* What types of advertising will you use to promote the sale of my home - multiple listing service (MLS), flyers in tubes at the curb of the home, newspaper advertising, agent open houses, public open house, etc.?
* How are you building your reputation as a new realtor?
* Do you have any marketing materials you can provide to me?
* Do you have any additional accreditations? Is so, which ones?
* Will you be my only point of contact or do you have others who would be assisting me through the process?
* What commission do you charge? Some can vary as much as 2 percent.

Some of the items you request over the initial phone interview may have to be provided when you meet face-to-face. For the in-person meeting, however, you'll want to include the following questions:

* Do you update your clients regularly regardless of whether there is new information to provide? If so, at what regular intervals?
* What is your marketing strategy to sell my home?

You may think of other questions that are pertinent to your situation. Jot them down before the interview and don't finalize the interview until all your questions have been answered.

After the interviews are completed, compare commission and responses of each. Decide on which licensed realtor you'll use, and you'll be well on your way to obtaining your next home purchase.

Ki maintains a website, which works as a clearinghouse of information on Austin real estate. There, future homeowners can search the Austin MLS. Ki has worked with Austin buyers for over three years. He also provides up to date information on mortgage rate trends on his site.

Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Trisha P Realty Group 12/01/2009 02:58 PM
  2. Harris Booker 12/18/2009 04:21 AM
  3. Jonathan Benya 01/08/2010 01:46 AM
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Show All Comments
Edy Kizaki
eXp Realty - Seattle, WA

This is great.  I had never heard that 10% rule, it kind of makes it easier mentally to come to a decision about how much to put aside.  Where is that advice from?  Did you fix on that or has someone coached you on the 10% being the right figure?

Nov 15, 2009 05:14 PM #1
Trisha P Realty Group
Realty Executives - Leavenworth, KS
"Holding the Keys to Your Dream Home"

You have great blogs that are very informative.  Thank you, I will re-blog this one!  Great post!

Dec 01, 2009 02:58 PM #2
Anthony Stokes-Pereira
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Nanuet, NY

Hi Ki Gray;

Great post very informative, super tips I thank you for sharing. Happy Holiday!

Dec 12, 2009 11:52 AM #3
Wendy Rich-Soto Realtor,Real Estate Coach & Consultant
Keller Williams Realty, LA Harbor - San Pedro, CA
"Bridging Your Way Home"

Good advice!  Thank you for an excellent post!

Dec 12, 2009 05:48 PM #4
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Ki Gray

Austin Real Estate
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